15 people accused of leaking details on the Saudi military and national security to Iran have been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia based on the decision made by the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh. Many of the spies worked in the military, diplomatic and economic fields.
The convicts were members of an Iranian spy cell which included at least 32 people: 30 Saudis, 1 Afghan and 1 Iranian. They were arrested in 2013.
Here’s a breakdown of the conviction of the 32: 2 were acquitted, 15 were given prison sentences and 15 others were sentenced to death.
Some of the convicts also worked in economic, financial and academic fields.
The men apart from collaborating with agents from Iranian intelligence and leaking information on the Saudi armed forces and national security to Tehran were also accused to have attempted to recruit people “working in state agencies to commit acts of espionage for the Iranian intelligence service.”
Some of the accused hacked into computers to obtain the data concerning internal and external security of Saudi Arabia. They were even alleged to have been in touch with Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei.
A majority of the convicts were members of the Shiite minority, a source close to the case told AFP.
They were also accused of supporting demonstrations in the Shiite-dominated Qatif governorate in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province.
According to Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) Middle East researcher Adam Coogle, the trial was “flawed from the beginning.”
He told AFP that the alleged spies’ offences don’t look like recognizable crimes, including “supporting demonstrations,” trying to “spread the Shia confession,” and “harming the reputation of the kingdom.”
“Criminal trials should not be merely legal ‘window-dressing’ where the verdict has been decided beforehand,” he said.
In October this year, an AFP tally showed that the kingdom had executed at least 134 people.
Saudi Arabia and Iran continues to have a strained diplomatic relations due to different approaches to Islam, leadership of the Islamic world and oil export policy.
In January this year, Riyadh executed prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Nimr was one of the 47 people either beheaded or shot by firing squad across Saudi Arabia in one day making the largest number of individuals executed in a single day since the year 1980.
The execution of the 47 prompted waves of protests in Iran. Demonstrators broke into the Saudi embassy in Tehran, ravaging its offices and throwing Molotov cocktails at the building.
In response, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister, Adel al-Jubeir accused Iran of creating “terrorist cells” inside the Sunni kingdom after cutting diplomatic ties with the Shiite Islamic Republic.
Source: RT News